desi, food, kebab, kebob, writing

How to make Afghani kebabs [since I’m too cheap to buy them]

A few weeks ago I wrote about my craving for Afghan kebabs. Chef Google  revealed the only intriguing recipe was written entirely in Urdu. Some of you expressed interest, including Azmina and Muslim Wife, who are such awesome cooks I got a bit nervous venturing into recipe-sharing territory, but this dish? It’s good [At least the most important food critic in my life, K, seems to think so]. It’s affordable. And deserves translation.

What I’m sharing is an adaptation of the original as I’m incapable of following a recipe step-by-step [Just ask my dear friend Saba who witnessed in abject horror as I measured the oil and water for brownie batter. With a drinking cup]. I’m just an andaza se type of girl. When the mood strikes to make a dish, I look up 5-10 different recipes, pick my favorites out of each and make it according to what feels right. Here I only had one recipe to work with so altered ingredients upon subsequent attempts. [Yes, we’ve eaten this dish three times in two weeks, its that yummy]. Julia wrote this lovely post about cooking and its correlation with creativity and I must agree. Ever since I began working on my manuscripts, I’ve noticed an uptick on my willingness to experiment with my cooking. In short, this is not a literal rendering of the recipe but my interpretation. Use and lose heat-inducing spices at your discretion because this recipe as written will make wasabi taste like guacamole. 

1 pound lean ground beef
1/2 cup chopped cilantra
1 large chopped onion
1-2 chopped jalapeno
1 tspn salt [to taste!]
1/4 tspn crushed red pepper [can be plenty spicy without this so use only if you feel the jalapeno you picked is not particularly hot]
2 teaspoon whole black pepper freshly ground [Freshly ground black pepper is what makes this dish sparkle and I can attest to this as I’ve made it both with fresh and preground peppers, the difference in taste is remarkable]
1 14.5 oz can of crushed tomato
1 tbspn lemon juice
[I also added three cloves when I ground the black pepper, I enjoyed the extra kick but not necessary if you don’t have any on you]

Combine the ground beef with half the cilantro, half the onions, all of the jalapeno, salt, red pepper  and 1 tspn of black pepper. Knead it together with your hands so its blended.

Divide the meat into four separate balls, make sure to press and mold them so the ingredients stick together.

Flatten each piece as thin as you can. Place on oiled and heated frying pan. Cook for 1-2 minutes per side before removing, the inside will be a little rare. Repeat with the rest and then chop them fajita-cut strip-style and set to the side.

In a separate sauce pan, fry the rest of the onions until they are golden brown. Add the crushed tomato sauce, salt, pepper, red pepper, and lemon juice. Stir until the oil separates from the sauce. Add the beef strips. If you feel like its not saucy enough like I did, add 1/4 cup of water, cover and simmer for 15 minutes stirring occasionally and adding water if it feels like its sticking. Turn off and garnish with remaining cilantro..

Eat with rice [if you like], defrosted naan [if you must], and really, if you are anywhere near an Indian or Pakistani joint,  pick up some fresh naan hot off the tandoor because it really just tastes better that way. [And I’d have shared the pictures of the final product- except um, it got consumed rather quickly]

Hope you like the recipe, if you try it do let me know!

– – –
My seven year blogoversary is coming up! If you read, please click follow for a chance to enter for some fun giveaways courtesy of moi as a thank you to you for reading! 🙂

29 thoughts on “How to make Afghani kebabs [since I’m too cheap to buy them]”

  1. Thanks for letting me know- this is so weird- I had like ten comments- and they all vanished into thin air- I don't get the new system- I guess I'll stick with the tried and true.


  2. My apologies to Julia, Baraka, Leslie, Anon, for the mysterious disappearance of your comments- I was attempting to install commentluv but its apparently got too many glitches. Oh well. Thanks though 😦


  3. Mystic, just out of curiosity, when you did find it, what about it didn't work? I've gone ahead and uninstalled it but its strangely working on my other, writing blog.

    Oh well. This is what I get for trying something new I guess 🙂


  4. I took a peak after reading your FB post and thought the new comment set up looked really neat. But this way works too 🙂 Ok so this recipe looks amazing! Would I be crazy to say I'd need to make this spicier for our tastebuds? Have you used red chili powder instead of the pepper flakes, any heat difference? Thanks so much for the recipe and I have to say, khana made andaze se always tastes better!


  5. Baraka, I'm in touch with the ID moderators to see if they can help me, really liked the interface. Oh well 😦

    Muslim Wife, I am still trying it out. Hope ou like it! And more spicy than this!?! I would say that red chili would probably be okay- I tried it that way the first time I made it, but somehow it was more enjoyable with crushed pepper flakes- Im not sure why though?

    Mystic, thanks for letting me know 😦

    E, be warned!!! LOL 🙂

    A, hope mom is willing and it tastes good 🙂


  6. Hmmm. Your posts keep disappearing & reappearing on my reader. Comment posting looks the same as ever. Still in the works?

    (and thank you for posting this. We're totally going to be trying this someday SOON!)


  7. Azmina, have you made other sorts of Afghani Kebabs before??? Because I want to know how to make more now!!! Any on your blog that I missed??

    Raising, haha yes, I don't think the little one will appreciate the spiciness of this! lol 🙂


  8. I made them for lunch and they were yummy! I added the cloves, as you suggested and you could really taste them! I also added a bit of cumin, for a little smokiness. Yum! This will be part of our regular rotation. 🙂 Thanks!


  9. Jamila, would you add the cloves on a second try? Just curious- I also noticed the strength in the taste, I liked it but wondered if others would. Good idea on cumin! SO glad you liked it!!!! 🙂 Thanks for letting me know!

    Saba, yay! Let me know if you like it!!! 🙂


  10. Thank you for the recipe. I'm cooking these tonight! I like the spice added to the recipe. I love jalapeno and red pepper.


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